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Managing Parking at Your New Chicago Investment Property and How Property Managers Can Help

By | Property Management

Purchasing rental investment properties in Chicago with parking isn’t as rare as you might think, particularly in busier neighborhoods downtown and where street parking is hard to find.

In those instances, paid parking spaces or rented spaces in a lot are common, and when you’re the landlord at the property, they mean more responsibilities you’ll have to tend to.

Offering parking at your properties can give you the opportunity to earn more income—many landlords in large cities like Chicago won’t automatically include parking in the rental rate, since so many people live car-free, and instead will charge a flat rate every month on top of rent for the space. It’s beneficial to both sides when done this way—if a tenant doesn’t want the space meant for them, they won’t have to pay the additional fee, and because parking is so scarce in the city, you’ll likely be able to find someone else who would like to rent the space, even if they’re not a tenant at your property.

Beyond collecting rent for the spaces, though, you’ll have a few other responsibilities with regards to parking, and as a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty have some advice that can make landlording a bit more convenient for you. Here are our top tips about managing the parking at your Chicago investment property.

Double Check on Accessibility Regulations

If you’re purchasing a building that doesn’t have any handicapped-accessible parking spaces, you’ll want to check with local ordinances as well as with your Chicago property management company about whether you will need to rectify that situation immediately or if you can deal with it when it becomes an issue (i.e. when a tenant needs the space to be accessible). Some cities require 2 percent of parking lots at residential locations to be handicapped-accessible, which is why it’s important to check your building’s code requirements. Asking your property managers about this issue can be a quick fix—they’ll know local ordinances surrounding disabled parking requirements and can get the issue cleared up fast.

Maintaining the Lot’s Safety

When it comes to maintaining safety at your property, terms of your leases will determine who is responsible for shoveling walkways, but typically, the onus for ensuring parking lot safety falls on the landlord. Of course, this can be meted out to your property management company to take care of—that’s just one of many things that property management companies in Chicago will help out with at your properties. Tasks like regular shoveling and de-icing, repairing pot holes and cracks, and repainting space lines and other markings can all be handled by your property management company, so that you can spend your time doing work that is more important and pressing.

Know that Parking Issues at Your Chicago Investment Property Will Arise, Sooner or Later

Despite all your best efforts, at some point, you’ll likely have to deal with some form of parking issues at your building. Whether it’s the driveway being blocked or unauthorized vehicles taking up renters’ spots, you’ll have to rectify the situations quickly to keep everyone happy. In these sorts of instances, having a local property management company in Chicago to help you can be a lifesaver, especially if you don’t live nearby. They’ll be able to solve any problems at your rental property quickly and easily. They’ll have access to security teams as well as towing companies to help resolve any problems, so you can rest easy knowing that your tenants and building are safe.

 

How to Help Prevent Non-Renters from Parking In Your Spaces

Preventing non-renters from parking in your lot or spaces can be tricky, but often, all that it takes can be a few signs, placed in highly visible areas, warning that any unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the vehicle owner’s expense. In cities like Chicago, where a car getting towed can be an incredibly inconvenient ordeal requiring a long drive to the impound lot and a few hundred dollars in fines, these signs can be unbelievably effective—just make sure you follow through with them, since people realizing there is no risk of towing can lead them to keep breaking the rules.  

Consider Guest Parking Options

To that end, it can be beneficial to set aside a few spaces for guest parking, and giving tenants a placard to give to guests to indicate that the visiting car is allowed to park there. This not only cuts down on abuse of the shared spaces, but makes it easier for your tenants to have visitors over—creating happier tenants overall.  

Decide What to Do About Non-Operational Vehicles

To ensure that your parking spaces/lot are housing working vehicles and not just providing storage space for a car that doesn’t run, be sure to let tenants know that only operating vehicles are allowed to park in the shared lot or assigned spaces. This helps ensure that the lot is occupied by people who need parking for the cars they use, rather than taken up by people who simply want a cheap place to leave a vehicle (this is particularly true if a parking space is included in your rental rates).

 

Getting Help With Rental Property Parking in Chicago

When it comes to owning investment properties in Chicago and managing the different aspects of them, parking shouldn’t be something that causes you a lot of stress. If you want help with your parking setup at a property, working with a Chicago property management company can be a great asset. At Lofty, we strive to take the busy work off our investors’ plates so that they have time to do the other, often more important work they need to get done, and that includes everything related to managing the parking systems at your properties. We’ll manage finding tenants, parking area upkeep, fee collection, towing partnerships, and more, so that you can get back to living the life you deserve—after all, owning investment properties wasn’t supposed to be your full time job!

To learn more about how we help real estate investors’ manage every part of their properties, contact us today.  

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

Property Management Company Chicago

Way to Add Additional Security to Keep Your Tenants and Property Safe

By | Property Management

Whether you’re new to owning investment rental properties in Chicago, or you’ve been involved with it for many years, one issue that keeps evolving is the topic of security—how to keep both your tenants and the property itself safe. That can mean keeping it safe from intruders as well as protecting yourself from liability from tenants, and when you’re a landlord or property owner, it’s important to maintain secure buildings. Not only does it make your life easier, but it can save you money over time, particularly if you don’t have to replace or repair things that are damaged, stolen, or broken. As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty see the different ways that landlords and investors protect their properties, and we’re happy to pass the most helpful tips we’ve seen on to you.

Check Crime Stats Before Buying

Perhaps the biggest and easiest bit of advice to give is that before you commit to purchasing a property, check out the crime stats around it. What you do with the information will be up to you, but knowing what’s common around the area will inform you on how to protect tenants from potential problems. For instance, a slightly higher crime rate may be encouragement to set up security cameras/alarms, motion-sensor lights, or other security-increasing products.

Don’t be scared off by any crime appearing on a crime report though—the fact is that crime is unfortunately everywhere, but knowing about it will allow you to ensure your tenants and property is better protected.

Install Fixtures that Increase Safety and Security

Along that line, the biggest way to increase safety and security at your buildings is by installing various security measures:

  • Call boxes at the front door to allow guests to be buzzed in, rather than unlocked main doors that lead to locked apartment doors—this weakness in security is one too big to overlook, so if you’re not interested in a call box, at least make sure that the main entryway door is locked at all times.
  • Security cameras should be installed near entryways, bike racks, fire escapes (especially if they go all the way to the ground level and are easily accessed), and parking lots. These areas should be well lit, as well.
  • Motion sensing lights can be installed around entrances and other points on the property that need additional security, as well as parts of the bulding’s interior that aren’t frequented as often, like basement laundry rooms or storage areas.
  • Window bars can be installed on ground level windows for additional security. These can be decorative, as well—no need to worry about unsightly additions to your property.
  • Intercom systems can help prevent people who are strangers from being let in by well-meaning neighbors. This way, visitors can contact the party they’re visiting and gain access, but people with nefarious motives won’t be able to gain access—be sure to stress to tenants not to allow entry to unexpected visitors or strangers.
  • Alarm systems that will go off in the event of unauthorized entry, as well as visible signage detailing these systems’ presence can help prevent criminal activity.

 

Protect Yourself: Make Sure the Property is Well-Maintained

Beyond installing things that keep tenants safe, a way that you can ensure you are protected is by making sure that the property is well maintained and safe to patronize.

Check on things like whether doors and windows lock properly, whether staircases are safe, and whether common areas are secure—making sure of these things can help prevent you from being liable for issues like injuries, break-ins, or theft. If your investment property in Chicago is well-protected from crime and other safety issues, you’re set. Talking to your property management company can shed some light on the various ways you can increase security to protect both your tenants and yourself.

Use a Property Management Company in Chicago to Help Protect Your Building

One more way you can protect your property is by working with a Chicago property management company. Beyond simply advising you on ways to make your buildings more secure, they can dispatch any necessary contractors or response teams if a problem ever does arise.

Property managers will be able to offer their own tips for safety and security based on where your building is located, as well—different parts of the city may require different security measures. For instance, if you’re used to dealing with securing outdoor parking lots, but purchase a building in a part of the city that offers underground or covered parking, there may be steps to take that you might not think of. Property management companies have experience dealing with a wide range of property types, and will be able to offer you advice based on the specific property you have bought.

 

Getting Help from a Property Manager

Whether you’re gearing up to buy a new investment property, you just did, or you have a list of buildings you want some assistance with, a Chicago property management company can be a great help. At Lofty, our goal is to ensure that our investors and clients live the lives they deserve, and that means taking care of the everyday aspects of property ownership as well as bigger tasks like updating security at newly-acquired properties. From helping you find great tenants to contracting out installation of security systems and beyond, we’re dedicated to making sure you enjoy owning investment properties.
Contact us today to learn more about the ways we help investors in Chicago.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

Upgrades to Avoid Doing in Your Chicago Investment Property

5 “Cheat” Upgrades to Avoid Doing in Your Chicago Investment Property

By | Property Management

Owning investment properties in Chicago is a great business to be in. Demand for rentals is high, and the inclination to do repairs and implement upgrades on your properties is understandably strong. Marketing the best property on the block takes work, and for some landlords, that has meant doing what some might call “cheat” upgrades. Cheat upgrades can simply be defined as work that seems like it will save time or money at the outset. However, these projects end up costing more and taking much more time to fix than they would have taken to do the job the “right” way the first time around.

With that in mind, we at Lofty want to help make sure our investors don’t make these mistakes! After all, it’s our goal to make your life easier, not more complicated. When it comes to upgrades and new finishings in your Chicago investment properties, here are five big ones you’ll want to avoid cutting corners on. Save yourself time, money, and frustration and get the job done properly the first go around—you’ll be glad you did.

1) Painting Over Wallpaper

DIY painting jobs are a great way to save money on updating properties, but one way you can cause more work for yourself is by painting over wallpaper. While some sites around the internet suggest there’s nothing wrong with this method, the truth is that sooner or later, that wallpaper is going to start peeling, and in addition to the seams of the wallpaper showing through the paint, you’ll then have to worry about what to do with the peeling paper. This can lead to a project that involves not only having to take down the wallpaper (usually with special tools to protect the underlying drywall), but having to sand the walls and repaint.
It’s best, if you don’t like the wallpaper in a property, to get rid of it before ever picking up a paint roller.

 

2) DIY Kitchen Renovations

Plenty of property owners attempt do-it-yourself kitchen upgrades with great success, but oftentimes, that can be attributed to luck. Attempting to hang cabinets on your own or purchasing pre-made sets of kitchen fixtures from big-box or hardware stores can save you some money, but if you wind up with a sloped or un-level cabinet or counter, or worse—a set of cabinets that don’t quite fit or work well with the space you have, and you have to start all over. Unless you’ve got considerable experience renovating kitchens, this is an upgrade that should be left to the pros.

3) Using an Overlay Coating to Fix Bad Concrete

Concrete floors and walkways can be a stylish option in modern buildings, especially ones with open-concept or loft-like styling. Whether they’re outdoors or indoors, concrete bases must be in great condition in order to benefit from decorative overlays. If the concrete at your building has any damage–cracks, chips, dings, or other problems, it can be tempting to simply install a concrete overlay system to cover up the problems, but you’ll quickly learn that that’s all it will be doing—covering up, not fixing, the problems.

Overlays are only as good as the base they go over. They are not meant to fix concrete that is in bad shape, and if you pour an overlay onto cracked or damaged concrete, you’ll merely end up with a cracked and damaged-looking overlay that you’ll then need to fix even further. That project will be much more labor intensive than it would be had the concrete been fixed before pouring an overlay.

 

4) Installing In-Unit Laundry Machines Without Proper Plumbing Help

A value-adding upgrade for rental investment properties in Chicago and many other cities is adding laundry machines to each unit. In-unit laundry is an amenity that can net you a significant amount more rent, especially if you’re renting to young families with kids—renters that need to do a lot of laundry. However, unless you’ve got plumbing expertise, this can be a job that can cause more damage that is expensive to repair. For instance, washing machines can leak to lower floors, and ventilation can be lacking, which can lead to mold growth on walls, in ceilings, and elsewhere. Mold can be an expensive problem to fix, and since it’s very preventable, it’s to your benefit to hire professionals to help install laundry machines.

5)  Replacing Interior Flooring On Your Own

Whether you’re installing tiling, vinyl flooring, hardwood floors, or laminate, you should enlist the help of a professional to do this job. Doing it yourself can seem like a great way to get the job done faster and more cheaply, but measuring mishaps, technique slips, and more missteps can lead to ruined materials, wasted time, and a huge headache. Plus, if these problems arise, you’ll end up hiring a professional to backtrack and finish the job. Instead of risking damage to costly materials and wasting a lot of effort, it’s best to consult with professional flooring contractors.

 

Get Help From Your Chicago Property Management Company

DIY projects can be cost-effective if you’re a property owner, but for some jobs, it’s best to leave things up to the professionals rather than try to cheat the system and get things done quicker and more inexpensively. As a dedicated Chicago property management company, we at Lofty work to ensure that property investors get the most ROI on their rentals in Chicago. Part of that means we’ve got a network of reliable contractors and home improvement specialists who will work on your building upgrades in an efficient way, making sure that the outcome is exactly what you and your properties need to earn great returns. Our goal is to take the busy work off your plate—sourcing contractors, scheduling projects, overseeing the progress, and everything in between—so that you can live the life you deserve and work on projects that are more pressing and important to you.

To find out more about all we can do to help you manage your Chicago investment properties, contact Lofty today.  

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

Inexpensive Landscaping Tips to Get Your Rental Investment Property Spring-Ready

Inexpensive Landscaping Tips to Get Your Rental Investment Property Spring-Ready

By | Property Management

As an investment property owner, springtime can be a big money-making season as many leases turnover and you market your building to new prospective renters. While we all often think of the interior as the big sell—because it is—the exterior of your investment property is important, too. As a property management company in Chicago, Lofty is committed to giving the best advice to investors and landlords about how they can find the best tenants and make the most money on their properties, and finding the best ways to improve building interiors as well as exterior spaces is one of our specialties. Inexpensive landscape updates and maintenance tips that can increase the curb appeal of your property is something we’re very familiar with. In Chicago, people relish winter’s end and look forward to seeing green grass, blooming flowers, and lush shrubbery lining the streets. Here are some great ways you can increase the appeal of your properties without breaking the bank.

Clean Out Gutters, Wash Windows, and Power Wash the Exterior

Cleaning is the first step you can take toward making any space look better. First, clean out the gutters and remove built up leaves and other debris from the cold seasons.

Next, clean the windows—this can instantly give the facade a lift, making things look brighter and better in just minutes.

Finally, cleaning off the exterior of the building will make a huge improvement in the way the building looks. Renting a power washer is relatively inexpensive, and if you’ve got siding or sidewalks that look a bit worse for the wear, pressure washing is a quick job that can help remove built-up grime on the exteriors, which will make your property look sparkling new.

Aerate and Re-Seed the Lawns

The lawns (both front and backyards) should be tended to at the turn of the seasons, also. Aerate and re-seed them for optimal growth, and be sure to work with lawn maintenance companies or your Chicago property management company to set up a schedule to ensure they keep looking their best all year. This is especially important if you lay down any sod, as it will need regular maintenance to avoid withering away. Having a bright green lawn and a clean building exterior are a quick and easy project, and they make a huge impact toward how your property looks.

Clear Away Dead Plants

You don’t want your building to have dead, dried out old plants sitting out front. This is a another quick fix that helps project the concept that an attentive building owner is taking care of the place.

Clear away all of the plants that are dead from the winter, pluck the dead roots out of the planters if they’re not perennials (and possibly even if they are—creating a low maintenance landscaping plan that doesn’t require you to constantly replant might be a better option). Your property management company can give you a hand with this, too—maybe you live far away and don’t have the time to do it, or you simply have too many other projects on your plate at the moment. Whatever the case may be, your propert managers can take care of it, utilizing skilled landscapers that can transform even the deadest, most gnarled garden into a beautiful work of art.

Replace Grass with Mulch in Walkways

If you’re looking for a way to lower the amount of upkeep required at your properties, replacing plants and grass on walkways with mulch can be a good idea. You’ll need to first dig out the space for the pathway several inches. Then, install plastic edging as barriers so that the mulch stays within its intended space—leave the edging a half inch above the ground. Next, lay down three or four inches of crushed rock or stones, as this will encourage drainage when the mulch gets wet. Finally, lay down the mulch of your choosing, and to help compress it into place, spray it lightly with water and tamp it down. Voila—a mulch pathway that requires almost no maintenance like a grass one would.

Instead of Expensive Flowers and Trees, Plant Low-Maintenance Shrubs

While flowers look bright and lively, the hard truth is that they just die too quickly. In addition, they’re expensive to buy, plant, and maintain, and the end result is often starting over from scratch the following year. We know most people don’t have time for that. In a similar vein, planting trees may seem like a great idea, but trees are an expensive investment, particularly if you have several properties to upkeep. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that the trees will root and thrive where you plant them, and if they don’t, you’re back to square one. Instead of flowers or trees, we often suggest property owners in Chicago plant low-maintenance shrubbery outside their buildings. Not only does shrubbery look great, but it’s very low maintenance and is known to withstand a lot of harsh weather. Plants like arbor vitae are great for Chicago properties, and landscapers will have other great tips for which plants and shrubs will stand up to the unpredictable Midwest weather.

Need Help Getting Ready for Spring?

When you need help preparing your properties for the upcoming season, we can help. Here at Lofty, we strive to offer investment property owners the help and guidance they need to see the most return on their investments. You already know about what you need to do during wintertime at your property, but as far as springtime upkeep, we’re proud to be working with the best landscapers, gutter cleaners, and more, and we’ll take care of all the details so that you can get back to doing things you want to do. As a property management company in Chicago, our goal is to take the stress and busy-work off your plate from investment properties so that you can live the life you deserve. If you’re ready to learn more about how we can help you enjoy your investments more, call us today.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

what does landlords insurance cover

Landlord Requirements for Emergencies and How Property Management Can Help

By | Property Management

Whether you’re a seasoned landlord or you’ve just recently gotten into the world of investment properties, emergencies at your rentals are always going to come as a hectic surprise. Whether it’s just a small kitchen fire or something much more serious, you can help ease the shock by being prepared—knowing who to call, what you’re responsible for, what your insurance will cover, and more. Having a good grasp on the ins and outs of how to manage and deal with an apartment or condo emergency in your Chicago rental units can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.

“Who You Gonna Call?”

Unfortunately, the Ghostbusters won’t be able to help you when one of your tenants overflows the bathtub into the unit downstairs, a refrigerator stops working, or a fire breaks out at one of your properties. Instead, you’ll want to have a list at the ready of on-call emergency response companies who can help out at your Chicago rentals. From fire mitigation services to roofers, electricians to plumbers, build up a list of trusted vendors who can solve the problems that always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Work with your property management company to determine which companies will be the most beneficial for your properties.

 

What Are You Responsible For?

If the emergency happens as a direct result of ignored or neglected repairs, such as a leaking roof that eventually collapses or an electrical fire due to faulty wiring, you can find yourself liable for a lot of damages. You should stress to your tenants to carry renter’s insurance, though, because damages caused by emergencies are typically not covered by the landlord’s insurance policy.

That being said, there are some things that you may be held responsible for, regardless of the cause of emergency, in addition to preventative measures. In terms of fire prevention, you’re required to provide a rental that is up to fire code, including having working smoke alarms in each room. Beyond that, you are required to get the rental unit back in living order following a fire, but your insurance company will most likely not cover any of your tenant’s losses. For that reason, to avoid any uncomfortable surprises, you should encourage your tenants to have renter’s insurance.

Floods are a different ball game: the landlord will typically have to have a separate policy for flood insurance, and it will be up to the tenant to find out if their renter’s insurance policy covers flood damage—many do not.

Whether you choose to compensate your tenants for finding alternative housing in the event of an emergency is up to you—some landlords will give their tenants the amount of daily rent (total rent cost divided by 30, multiplied by how many days the tenant can’t stay at their apartment), while others will simply offer to cover the cost of a modest hotel/motel during the clean-up or repair time. If you’re stuck on what you think you should offer tenants, your property management company can help advise you based on previous situations they may have had experience with and what will be best for your tenant-landlord relationships.

 

What Does Your Insurance Cover?

You probably already know by now that homeowner’s insurance is different from landlord’s insurance. If you didn’t know that, well, it’s time to get your policies changed. Landlords are usually required to carry greater liability against property damage, and these policies will also cover you in the event that your property becomes uninhabitable. Landlord’s insurance will also cover you in the event of lost income due to an uninhabitable property, whereas homeowner’s insurance would not (however, it should be noted that you can only be compensated for lost income due to emergency, not vacancies).

How Can Property Managers Help With Emergencies?

Beyond helping you compile a list of companies to call in the event of an emergency, property management companies can also coordinate with you and your insurance company in the event of an emergency, work with your tenants to resolve any residual issues from emergencies, and manage the aftermath of emergency clean-up and repairs. Working with a reputable property management company will mean that a majority of the hassle surrounding something going wrong at one of your Chicago rentals will be taken off your hands.

Finding Reliable Help for Your Chicago Investment Properties

If you’re tired of spending all of your time focusing on your investment properties and not enjoying any of the benefits of owning it, it might be time to get help. Here at Lofty, we believe that owning investment properties shouldn’t be your full-time job, and in order to help you live the life you deserve, we manage all of the busy work related to maintaining your properties as well as managing your tenants’ expectations and needs. If you’re ready to start enjoying owning your properties more, contact us today.

 

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

what should you offer tenants in an emergency

Why You Need 24/7 Maintenance and Emergency Response for Chicago Rentals

By | Property Management

As a landlord or investment property owner, it can be easy to slip into the idea that your job is a relatively easy 9 to 5. Screening tenants, helping with move-ins, and answering the occasional phone call about a leaky faucet isn’t too stressful a situation to be in, and if that’s been your experience so far, count yourself as lucky. For many property owners and landlords, the job can get pretty hectic, almost to the point that it can feel like a second full-time job—not ideal in any sense. Owning investment properties can be very rewarding, but the reality is that sooner or later, a tenant is going to have a problem at an hour that you absolutely won’t want to work during—a roof collapsing and flooding a unit after a heavy rainstorm in the middle of the night or a broken heater on the coldest, snowiest Sunday of the season, for instance. If you don’t have maintenance contractors on deck who are available to work 24/7, you may find yourself in a sticky situation of having to call around until you find one—and that can be a lengthy, often fruitless endeavor that leaves both you frustrated and your tenant upset. Here’s how you can avoid that happening.

Call Chicago Maintenance Companies Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than having a problem on your hands and have no solutions or prospect for help on deck. That’s why, when you invest in a property, it can be beneficial to start reaching out to companies that offer the services you’ll eventually need—plumbers, HVAC specialists, general handyman-type services, etc. Establishing a relationship with these businesses and getting them on your roster early can ensure that when the time comes to deal with a problem, you’re prepared. If you’re worried about how to make sure that you’re choosing the best workers—companies who are available at a moment’s notice, who charge a fair price, and who do reliable work—working with property managers can be a great help. Often, property management companies will have a list of these companies that they’ve worked with who have proven themselves to be worth having around.

What Types of Emergencies Should You Plan For?

Emergencies are, by nature, unexpected events that require immediate attention, but there’s still a little bit of planning you can do to be prepared for certain things. Some of the most common emergencies that occur in rentals include break-ins, fires, broken heaters, wiring issues, and plumbing problems. While a break-in can’t really be remedied by calling a contractor to fix things after it happens (if only!), you can help prevent burglaries by installing deadbolts and window locks. Fires can be mitigated by ensuring that smoke detectors are working and fire extinguishers are accessible, while heating issues and plumbing problems will have to be dealt with, unfortunately, after they happen. With this knowledge at the ready, though, you can compile a list of helpful contractors who will be able to assist after an emergency occurs.

A starter list of who you should have on deck for maintenance and emergencies for your Chicago rentals should include:

  • Plumbers
  • HVAC specialists
  • Fire restoration specialists
  • Electricians
  • Window companies (in case of broken windows)
  • Locksmiths

What Can Go Wrong If You’re Unprepared?

If you don’t have contractors ready to help when something goes wrong at one of your properties, you can find yourself dealing with not only unhappy tenants, but problems that can become larger and larger as time goes by—for instance, a broken pipe overnight that can’t be tended to until morning can lead to damage to floors or walls, or even problems with surrounding units, such as if water seeps through floors and down through the ceiling of a unit below. Problems compounding is the last thing you’ll want to deal with, so it’s best to be prepared and ready to go in case of emergency.

What Should You Offer Tenants in the Event of an Emergency?

If one of your tenants has an emergency at their rental unit, you’ll want to find out if they have renters’ insurance, particularly if the emergency is related to a fire or flood (events that cause a lot of damage to their personal items). While you are usually not required to provide housing assistance if the emergency makes their place uninhabitable, you may want to check with local laws—if the emergency was caused by a repair that was neglected, you may be on the hook for covering costs for your tenant to either stay in a hotel or relocate entirely.

If the emergency is not affecting your tenant’s housing status, but is creating a significant inconvenience (such as an unheated apartment in the dead of winter), you may want to consider knocking off a sum of money from the following month’s rent. This isn’t totally necessary, but if the tenant had to find somewhere else to stay for a couple of days, the break on rent will be much appreciated (if not required by law).

Be sure to outline in the lease what you will and will not cover expenses for in the event of an emergency. It can be a good idea to encourage tenants to carry renter’s insurance so that if something does happen, they’re not stuck recouping expenses—which can then cause them to be late on rent.

Getting Help with Your Rental Properties in Chicago

Making sure that you and your tenants are both covered in the event of an emergency doesn’t have to take up all of your time. If you live far away from your investment properties or just want a way to make owning your rental units easier, working with a Chicago property management company can be a great help. Here at Lofty, we know that your time is valuable, and that’s why we do everything we can to take the busy work off of your to-do list so that you can live the life you deserve, including maintenance, emergency repairs, helping with tenant relationships, and more. If you’re ready to start enjoying owning your investment properties more, call us today to learn more about all we do.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

Keeping Your Rental Property’s Drains in Great Shape: What to Do (and Not Do)

By | Property Management

 

It doesn’t matter if you own your house or rent an apartment—drain care is important. It’s not the most fun topic to talk about, but unless you want to deal with calling a plumber at the least opportune time (because, as we all know, nothing ever breaks when it’s convenient), it’s essential to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure your drains keep doing their job. As a property management company in Chicago, we have discovered quite a few pro-tricks when it comes to drain maintenance. Here are our top tips for keeping drains healthy no matter where you live.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs

You might not think that drain care and sports have much in common, but you’d be wrong. As the old sports saying goes, the same can be said for your drains: the best offense is a good defense. In other words, it’s easier to prevent drain issues from happening than it is to remedy them after there’s already a problem. Preventing drains from becoming clogged is relatively simple. Keep a drain protector or drain screen over your drains in the shower to prevent hair from going down the drain and collecting, and in your sinks, be sure not to pour down anything that could be considered damaging down them.

What Not to Pour Down Drains

Sometimes, people think that even without a garbage disposal, some products are fine to rinse down the drain. That’s unfortunately untrue, and if you continually rinse certain things down the drains in your home, it’s only a matter of time before you run into a problem. Sewer pipes can become clogged with grease and cause overflows and backups, which can be very expensive—not to mention a big hassle—to remedy. In the kitchen, make sure not to rinse these products down the drain, as they can cause grease clogs:

  • Cooking oils
  • Used frying oil
  • Shortening or lard
  • Dairy products
  • Sauces
  • Meat fats

 

Additional products that can cause big problems with drains include:

  • Motor oil
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Stickers from produce
  • Paper towels
  • Cat litter

Overall, if you can put something in the garbage instead of rinsing it down the drain, do that—erring on the side of caution is never a bad thing when it comes to drain health.

How to Fix Slow Drains

Unfortunately, you may sometime have to deal with slow-draining sinks or showers. Before you call your landlord or a plumber, you can try some at-home remedies. The first one isn’t pretty, but it’s a lot cheaper and quicker than calling in a professional. You’ll need some tweezers and rubber gloves, and you’ll want to try and pull whatever is causing the slow drainage out—usually, it’s stray hairs and dust buildup with soap scum mixed in—like we said, it’s not a pretty job. If that’s not helping, you can try doing a natural “drain volcano,” which uses a chemical reaction to break up forming clogs. To do this, you first pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar (slowly—if you pour too quickly, you’ll just rinse the baking soda down the drain. Then, let the mixture of baking soda and vinegar sit and bubble for about five minutes, then rinse it all down with one gallon of boiling water. The boiling water helps flush out anything that might have been collecting in the drain. If this doesn’t work the first time, you can try it again.

It’s important to note that if you’ve already used a commercial drain cleaner, you shouldn’t use the vinegar-baking soda method, as commercial drain cleaners can contain certain chemicals that, when mixed with baking soda and vinegar, can create toxic fumes.

While we’re talking about it—should you even be using commercial drain cleaners?

The Case For (and Against) Commercial Drain Cleaners?

While many drain cleaners at the hardware store do in fact clean out your drains pretty well, there can be big downsides, and these downsides can cause major, major problems in your building. Especially if the building is older, using commercial drain cleaners can completely ruin your home’s pipes. That’s because the main ingredient in many commercial drain cleaners is hydrochloric acid, and when left sitting inside drains, it can eat away at not only the pipes, but other finishes in your bathroom and kitchen, such as enamel or metal sinks. Additionally, the fumes from these products can be irritating to toxic—they’re not something you and your family should be breathing in. Worst of all, they may not even work, despite being made of very harsh chemicals. Then, you’re stuck with damaged pipes, toxic fumes, and a drain that’s still clogged.

Instead, you can try a drain snake or a drain plunger first. If these don’t work, it’s time to move onto more intensive repair options.  

When It’s Time to Call Your Landlord or a Plumber

Plumbing in homes and apartments are like the roots of a tree. There’s one main line, and each room’s plumbing can be considered a “branch.” If, for example, your sink is slow to drain, but everything else is fine, it’s just the sink’s pipes that are clogged. However, if the sink is clogged, but nothing else will drain either, it’s likely a main line that’s clogged. In either instance, if you can’t solve the problem with a gentle drain cleaner (vinegar and baking soda) or some simple tools, it’s best to contact a professional plumber. They’ll be able to solve the problem quickly and safely, and you’ll be rid of the problem in no time.

If you’re a renter, you should call your landlord if there’s drain trouble plaguing you. You may be held liable if you cause any damage to the pipes with do-it-yourself methods, and keeping healthy plumbing systems is part of what a landlord’s requirements are.

 

Don’t Want to Deal With Plumbing Issues at Your Tenants’ Homes?

While ignoring your tenants’ requests about fixing plumbing problems is the easy option, it’s not exactly ethical or legal. If you own a lot of investment properties, or you live out of the city your properties are in, dealing with plumbing issues can wind up taking you a lot of time. If you’re tired of spending your time making phone calls to plumbing companies at all hours of the day, night, and weekend, and traveling to your properties to meet with plumbers and tenants, it might be time to look into getting some help from a property management company. They have the time, availability, and desire to take the small tasks off of your plate so that you can do more important things.

At Lofty, we believe that owning investment properties should be satisfying, not frustrating, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to ensure you get to live the life you deserve. To find out more about how we can help you with plumbing issues at your properties, contact us today.  

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

where to eat wheeling

Neighborhood Guide: Wheeling

By | home buying, Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the town of Wheeling!

FACTS

Wheeling was home to the video game company Jaleco USA and to the American branch of Taito Corporation.

Some notable residents include:

Actor (Bones) John Francis Daley; opera singer, Deborah Voigt; singer/songwriter and comedian, Haley Reinhart.

EATS

Bob Chinn’s Crab House
393 S. Milwaukee Avenue
A Wheeling institution since 1982. For over 30 years they have been serving some of the freshest seafood from locations around the globe like Alaska, Hawaii and New Zealand. While seafood is their specialty, Bob Chinn’s is also known for their wet-aged prime steaks that are comparable to some of the best steakhouses in the suburbs and Chicago.  

Saranello’s
601 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Inspired by Executive Chef, Mychael Bonner’s Italian travels, the menu features a broad selection of Italian fare, utilizing the freshest ingredients to create the fullest flavors! They bring homemade, hand-crafted pizzas and pastas, as well as prime steaks and fresh fish dishes to the table. Enjoy the casual atmosphere while dining in a rustic setting.

Superdawg
333 S. Milwaukee Avenue
What started out as a hot dog stand in 1948 has grown into the old-fashioned Chicago-style hot dog mainstay, and one of the few remaining places offering carhop service! There is also a diner-style inside seating area, for those that prefer not to eat in their car.

Joe’s Pizzeria
57 N. Wolf Road
Family-friendly parlor known for its signature thin-crust pies and other Italian specialties, since 1966.

Tortorice’s Pizza
217 W Dundee Rd
While technically in Buffalo Grove, don’t let the funny name fool you—the folks here take pizza seriously. One of a handful of family-owned locations throughout the Chicago area, Tortorice’s is truly a magnificent ode to pizza. Take your New York visitors here for the Chicago-style deep dish and watch them melt like buttah.

The Original Granny’s
831 W. Dundee Road
A warm, inviting, neighborhood gem serving hot and tasty breakfast items. Come hungry, leave happy!

Tuscany
550 S. Milwaukee Road
Neighborhood Italian venue featuring pasta dishes & wood-fired pizza in a bright space.

Chicago Bagel & Bialy II
260 S. Milwaukee Avenue
Longtime homemade bagel specialist with outdoor seating featuring breakfast, lunch & deli items.

Rammy’s Sub Contractors
834 Wheeling Road
With owner, Mike Hrametz’s background in construction and studies in food service, he came up with a concept that was like no other. The Rammy’s Sub Contractors brainchild is a unique, construction-themed shop that serves unbelievably great food.

DRINKS

PS Pub
771 W. Dundee Road
Their extensive beer list includes a large selection of imports and domestics, while boasting their craft beer selection. They offer 12 lines of craft beers that are constantly changing. Also on the drink menu are an eclectic selection of shots. Don’t see one you like? The bartenders are happy to make a drink according to your recipe. Also featured are video slots, open mic Wednesdays, karaoke Fridays and live bands on Saturday.

Old Munich Inn
582 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Authentic German dive bar serving cold beer and cocktails only. Occasionally a tray of lunch meat and bread gets passed around to help soak up the drinks being consumed.

Spears
723 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Bourbon and beer drinkers unite. Enjoy cocktails prepared by incredibly knowledgeable bartenders who know all about the process of making, mixing, and drinking your next high quality beverage. Spears has American roots where the best Bourbon, Burgers, and Beer meet and await to delight you!

The Ram Restaurant & Brewery
700 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Brewpub chain featuring rotating house beers & easy-going American grub in family-friendly environment.

Cooper’s Hawk
583 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Combines a working winery, a tasting room and an upscale casual restaurant serving New American fare paired with house-label wines in a contemporary setting.

PARKS AND INTERESTS

Community Recreation Center (CRC)
333 W. Dundee Road
The CRC is open to the public and houses most Wheeling Park District programs including preschool classes, camps, arts and crafts, sports, adult and youth classes, indoor walking/running track, Arctic Splash indoor pool, Fitness Center, and the Guest Service Desk.

Arctic Splash
333 W. Dundee Road
A family friendly indoor pool that features a zero-depth leisure pool, Petie the Polar Bear toddler slide, mini lazy river, four lane – 25 yard lap pool and interactive water structures.

Family Aquatic Center
327 W. Dundee Road
The place you want to be during the summer months! A family friendly seasonal outdoor pool featuring Tsunami Splash (a water playground with large tipping bucket), Lily Pad Lagoon (a splash pool with water basketball and monkey bar activity pad), Volcano Valley (tube and body slides), Paradise Falls (two drop slides), Willie the Whale Toddler Slide, Aloha Beach (zero- depth entry main pool), lap lanes, Kona Courts (sand volleyball), grassy tanning area, Willie’s Coconut Café, a picnic area, diving board and Keiki Island (sand-play area).

Heritage Park
222 S. Wolf Road
Covering 97 acres, Heritage Park is the largest park the Wheeling Park District maintains. Encompassing the CRC and the Aquatic Center, the park has five baseball/softball fields (one with lights), tennis courts, soccer fields, play equipment, and a running/walking/bike path. There are shelters, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and an ice skating rink set up during the winter months. The park can be accessed from Wolf Rd. or via the CRC.

Husky Park
1100 Lee Street
Various slides and climbing apparatus, as well as swings and individual play pieces, accommodate both two- to five-year-olds and five- to 12-year-olds.  The individual play areas are sheltered by sail-like shade structures. The soft safety surface is constructed in circular shapes with contrasting colors.  The old basketball court was removed and replaced with a larger, full-court. Bike racks, new trash/recycling receptacles, and landscaping were added.

Chamber Park
251 N. Wolf Road
This park consists of 13 acres and is home to the Chamber Church, Carriage House, and the Wheeling Historical Society Museum. The church is said to be the second oldest church in Wheeling and as recently as the 1970s held services on Sundays. The Carriage House was moved to the park in the 1980s and the Museum was moved from Milwaukee Road., where it served as the original Wheeling police station. In the 1970s, the park had an outdoor and “kiddie” pool, shuffleboard courts, a large fountain, and an ice skating rink. Today, Chamber Park boasts play equipment, picnic tables, a sheltered gazebo, a dedicated flower garden area, and basketball hoops for informal play. The park also hosts Santa and Mrs. Claus when they come to town every December for Lollipop Lane.

Chevy Chase Golf & Country Club
1000 N. Milwaukee Avenue
A championship, 18-hole golf course set amid rolling greens and grassy fairways proves a challenge to players of all skill levels. Play a peaceful round early on a weekday morning, compete in a fun-filled scramble, or join a league to make new friends.

To meet your needs, golf carts come with GPS and provide a full-service golf shop stocked with brand name clubs and apparel. Finish your game at our 19th  hole, the Gable Room Bar & Grill, for delicious food and cold drinks.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Wheeling High School
900 S. Elmhurst Road
This high school boasts a culturally diverse student body, and draws its strength from embracing the rich multicultural community of students and staff. Wheeling High School is a four-year, comprehensive, public high school that offers all students a 21st century focus in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). US News and World Report recently recognized Wheeling as one of the best high schools in the state of Illinois.

Buffalo Grove High School
1100 W. Dundee Road
Buffalo Grove High School is recognized as a Blue Ribbon High School by the U. S. Department of Education and was named one of the top high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek magazines. In addition, Chicago magazine most recently named Buffalo Grove as one of the top 20 high schools in Cook County in the state of Illinois.

TRANSPORTATION

The Metra

The North Central Service line Wheeling stop is located at 400 Town Street. The northern most stop is Antioch and southernmost stop is at Union Station in Chicago.

Proximity to Downtown

Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the city, but Wheeling is approximately 30 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 40 minutes taking I-90 East. If traveling via the Metra, allow approximately 55 minutes.

Airport

Chicago Executive Airport, a busy general aviation airport, is located in Wheeling and Prospect Heights and jointly run by both villages. Formerly known as Palwaukee Municipal Airport, it is the third busiest airport in Illinois, after Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

Surrounding Areas

Buffalo Grove, Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights and Northbrook are your closest neighbors. These cities, while close in proximity, each offer unique vibes and help to make the Chicago suburbs a great place to live or visit!

what to do when your tenant stops paying

What to Do When a Tenant Stops Paying Rent or Wants to Break Their Lease

By | Property Management

As a landlord, you can do everything in your power to make a situation agreeable for a tenant, but the unfortunate reality is that sooner or later, you may find yourself facing a tenant who has stopped paying rent for some reason, or who is asking to get out of their lease early. Both of these situations are problematic for a variety of reasons, and the eviction process can be a nightmare for everyone involved, so it’s best to try and resolve problems if you can. If you can’t come to a compromise that works for everyone, though, you do have rights as the landlord. If you’re dealing with unpaid rent or an unhappy tenant who wants to leave before their lease is up, we’re here with some helpful advice.

What to Do When Your Tenant Stops Paying

It can be disheartening if, after all of your screening processes, you wind up with a tenant who stops turning in rent checks. Of course, a day or two late is understandable—we’re all human, after all—but when weeks or even months drag on with no payment coming your way, it’s time to take action.

Most tenants will be open to having a conversation about why they aren’t paying on time. Perhaps they were hit with an unexpected medical emergency and the accompanying bills, or they got into a car accident and have had to cover those expenses. Maybe they lost their job or are going through a divorce. There is usually a reason that people stop paying rent—most tenants aren’t simply neglecting their responsibilities and going out partying every night.

However, whatever the reason, the bottom line is that your bottom line is suffering. Have a sit down talk with your tenant and find out what’s really going on. Once you’ve heard their side of the story, you can make a decision about what to do.

 

Should You Evict or Negotiate?

Eviction processes can be complicated, expensive, and drawn out. If you haven’t been through the process before, you’ll want to be aware of what you’re getting into before you start down that road.

The Eviction Process in Chicago

If you decide to evict a tenant for non-payment, you must first notify them that you plan on starting the eviction process if they do not pay within a certain amount of days. If they don’t pay, you can then begin the eviction process. Eviction lawsuits must be filed in the same county that the property is located in. Once you do, the tenant will then receive a court summons and a court date. If they intend to fight the eviction, they will have to appear. If they appear in court, they’ll have to detail why they are fighting the eviction. There are a number of reasons that a tenant can fight their eviction, and if the case is over unpaid rent, they may choose to bring up issues of damage or lack of maintenance as a reason for the nonpayment—you will want to have any communications between the tenant and yourself on hand to prove that lack of maintenance is not the issue.

Due to the length of time that these proceedings can take—anywhere from five weeks to three months, assuming there are no delays—many landlords choose alternative methods for dealing with nonpayment. The most common alternative is negotiating with the tenant to figure out a smoother transition.

Common Negotiation Options  

Instead of evicting tenants, some landlords choose to work out a solution that involves paying the tenant to move out so that the apartment can be re-leased sooner. Often, the reason a tenant isn’t paying and won’t vacate is because they can’t afford movers. While it’s understandable to sympathize with this plight, the reality is you aren’t obligated to provide charity to non-paying tenants. If you’d prefer avoiding a court case and want the unit vacated, you can consider working out a deal to pay for the tenant’s moving fees so that they can leave sooner. This is sometimes the best case scenario—while you are paying a tenant to leave, a flat fee can work out to be less expensive than taking them to court and evicting them over months of unpaid rent.

You can also work out a payment plan if the tenant thinks they can get back on track relatively soon—whether you want to explore this option has to do with the reliability of the tenant and whether you can trust that they will actually catch up, and how they can prove to you that they can be trusted—documentation of a new job, for instance. This can be a risky choice, because if they turn out to be untrustworthy, you’re back at square one with unpaid rent and a tenant who needs to go.

Talk with your property management company about the best option for what to do when your tenant stops paying. They likely have a lot of experience dealing with all kinds of tenants, and will be able to offer you sound, realistic advice based on the specifics of your property and the current rental market.

 

What About a Tenant Who Wants to Break Their Lease?

Another issue that you may have to deal with as a landlord is a tenant who wants to leave before their lease is up. Breaking a lease is generally unadvisable for tenants, but from time to time, someone may have a legitimate reason that they need to leave: job relocation, family emergency, loss of income, etc. Other times, tenants simply want out of their responsibility– perhaps they want to move in with a significant other, or maybe they don’t like their roommates, but whatever the case may be, you need to find a way to deal with their dissatisfaction.

As a landlord, it’s in your best interest to try and come to a compromise on the tenant’s requests; resistance may lead to them stopping paying rent, and then you have to deal with that, in addition to an unhappy tenant.

If a tenant leaves, you are not allowed to simply do nothing, wait out their lease, then sue them for the months they weren’t there/were not paying. You are obligated by law to try and fill the vacancy in a timely manner. Even if you have a full plate of other responsibilities, you have to start showing the unit as soon as possible. You can charge costs of advertising the unit to the tenant breaking the lease, but thankfully, you aren’t required to list it at a below-market price just to fill the vacancy faster.

Whatever reason the tenant gives for wanting out of their lease, it is often easier to try and work with them to get the situation resolved sooner, rather than argue with them and force them to stay or sue them for unpaid rent.

If the tenant who wants to break the lease is not the only person on the lease, it should be reiterated to the remaining roommates that they are still responsible for the total amount of the rent payment. Recouping unpaid rent from a departed tenant will usually involve suing the tenant, and your leases should have a clause that informs roommates of the potential of having to cover the total cost of the rent in case someone leaves. The remaining tenants may not know that they will be held responsible if one person leaves, and that can cause a domino effect of more unpaid rent. In other words, it’s best to communicate with everyone what the terms of their lease are, even in the event of one person breaking the lease.  Try and get the departing tenant to find a sublet, but if they can’t, and you let them out of the lease, it’s up to you to fill the vacancy.

 

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

If all of this information makes you stressed out just reading it, that’s fair—dealing with unpaid rent, unhappy tenants, and broken leases can be nightmarish. Property management companies know that these issues pop up from time to time, and due to the volume of their businesses, have often dealt with these situations at least once or twice. They can help you track down tenants who aren’t paying on time (or at all), and they’ll be able to help you re-list vacant units, screen tenants, and take care of everything related to possible legal battles.

Here at Lofty, we want everyone who owns investment property to enjoy doing so, and we help facilitate that by managing every aspect of your property’s needs. We handle the difficult situations as well as the everyday minutiae of being a landlord, so that you can live the life you deserve.

Contact us anytime to learn more about how property management can make your life easier.

Speak with Lofty’s expert and managing broker Anthony Zammitt.

 

where and how to store security deposits

Everything You Need to Know About Security Deposits

By | Leasing, Property Management

You bought investment property, fixed it up to be market ready, posted an ad, screened tenants, and now you’re ready to sign a tenant to a lease. Congratulations! Now that you’ve got almost everything sorted out, it’s time to collect the security deposit from your prospective renter. If you haven’t gotten everything in line for your security deposits, though, it’s not too late. Not sure where to start? Follow this guide to learn everything you need to know about security deposits, from how much to charge to how to return them (or keep them) and everything in between.

How Much Should You Charge?

Unfurnished apartments in Chicago—as well as in most other cities and states—have a set limit for security deposits that cannot exceed the equivalent of two months’ rent (for furnished apartments, the limit is three times’ the monthly rent). For instance, if the rent is $1,500 per month, your security deposit cannot exceed $3,000; the payment due upon move-in would be the first month’s rent plus the security deposit. So, how much should you charge?

It’s advisable to charge around the equivalent to one month’s rent as the security deposit. This amount can cover a reasonable amount of damage should you need to do any repairs once the tenant moves out, and it can also discourage and weed out tenants who may be stretching their budget and savings to live in your property. One month’s rent is usually a manageable amount for most tenants, and it’s a very common amount for landlords to charge, so there won’t be any “sticker shock” with that rate. If you’re worried about turning some tenants off by charging a security deposit, you can consider charging a non-refundable fee instead. This is becoming more and more common, and it’s up to you to decide which is the best option for your properties.

When you receive a deposit from a tenant, be sure to issue a receipt including the date of payment, and keep a copy for your own records. When dealing with investment properties, the best thing you can do is keep detailed records and accurate books.

Where and How to Store Security Deposits

In most states, it’s required by law to keep your security deposits in separate bank accounts. Even if it’s not required by law where your properties are, it’s a good idea to keep deposits separate for a number of reasons:

  • They’re easier to keep track of when they’re not sharing an account with standard rent income.
  • It’s easier to manage interest earned; some states allow landlords to keep accrued interest on security deposits, while other states require anything earned plus the initial deposit back to the tenant at the end of the lease. In separate accounts, it’s far easier to track how much interest is earned on a deposit. Maintaining separate bank accounts for each property you own is advisable for optimal organization. You can have a master rental operations checking account, but security deposits for each property should be kept in separate, individual accounts (ideally also checking accounts, so that you can quickly pay them back or use them for repairs at the end of the lease).
  • It prevents accidentally spending the security deposit on maintenance or other expenses. If you do this and find yourself lacking the deposit at the end of the lease, this can be big trouble. That leads us to the next point–what you can use the deposit for.

What Can You Use the Security Deposit For?

Trick question! You can’t use the security deposit for any of your expenses, and it can only be used to cover the tenant’s last month of rent if you agree to those terms. Otherwise, it has to stay in its account, untouched, until the lease is up. Then, you can decide whether to give back the entire deposit, keep a portion of it for repairs, or keep the entire deposit (for major repairs, unpaid rent, etc.).

What to Do If You Sell the Property While Tenants’ Leases Are Still Active

There may come a time when you want to sell your property while existing leases are still in effect. In this event, you have two options: you can return the security deposit to the tenant at the time of sale, or you can transfer it to the new owner. You can’t keep the deposit (you’d think this would be common knowledge, but it’s always good to cover all the bases!). If, for whatever reason, an owner does walk off with the deposits when selling the property, the new owner cannot demand a second deposit from the tenants—the new owner will have to come up with that money on their own. But we don’t need to worry about that, do we? You know you can’t keep the deposit. Let’s move on!

The Lease Is Up: Now What?

When your tenant’s lease is up, there’s a set time frame you have to return the deposit. Since you kept the deposit in it’s own account (you kept the deposit in it’s own account, right?) returning it or keeping it is a pretty easy endeavor. If you’re returning the entire deposit (the tenant screening process worked!), you simply write your tenant a check for the whole amount (plus the interest, if applicable), along with a receipt, and you’re all done. This should be done within 14 to 60 days of the tenant’s moving out, but check your state’s laws on when security deposits need to be returned to be safe. Be sure to date the receipt—a simple mistake of omitting the date can cause a lot of problems, and can cost you money if a tenant later claims you didn’t pay their deposit back. Without a date on the receipt, you don’t have adequate proof of giving the deposit back, so we can’t stress it enough—you need to date the receipt.

If you’re keeping any of the deposit, it’s best to give your tenant an itemized list of charges as well as a receipt for the amount issued. You can’t keep any of the deposit to cover normal wear and tear, but you can keep part of the deposit for repairs or extensive cleaning.  

If you’re keeping the entire deposit, it’s beneficial to notify the tenant as such as well as provide them with an itemized list of expenses that were covered with the deposit. All of this paperwork should be dated, and it’s important to notify the tenant of this in a timely manner. Sometimes, tenants will try to fight your keeping of the deposit, and that’s where detailed documentation of the apartment’s condition upon move-in and move-out as well as any repairs or maintenance done will come in handy. You can fight the tenant for what’s rightly yours, and provided your reasons for keeping the deposit are reasonable, you’ll be ready to re-rent the apartment in no time.

 

You Don’t Have to Do Everything On Your Own

An important note about all of this is that when it comes to managing security deposits or any other part of the property ownership or landlord responsibilities, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. In fact, if you are doing everything yourself, it can be easy to miss certain details or get so bogged down by busywork that you aren’t able to do what you really want to be doing. You didn’t get involved with investment properties so that you could screen tenants and deal with writing up maintenance checklists after leases end—you got into investment property to, naturally, see a return on that investment.

Here at Lofty, we understand that your time is valuable, and we think you should be enjoying owning investment property, not spending all your time dealing with leases, security deposits, and other paperwork. We work hard to make sure our clients and landlords have an easy time with their investment properties, and we do so by taking care of every aspect of property management, from advertising your apartments in Chicago to screening tenants, scheduling maintenance and repairs, collecting rent and distributing security deposits, and so much more. With the help of a property management company, you can spend your time how you want to spend it—not doing work for your properties.

To learn more about how Lofty can help you start living the life you deserve, contact Lofty’s managing broker Anthony Zammitt to chat!

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